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Energy & Water Conservation Program (EWC)

What’s UT’s Energy and Water Conservation (EWC) Program All About?

The Energy and Water Conservation (EWC) Program is a branch of the Energy Management & Optimization Division under the Utilities & Energy Management Department. This team is responsible for projects, programs, and operations that help meet the university’s “demand-side” (or consumer side) energy conservation goals.

What Starts Here Changes the World. It's not just a slogan to us. It's about managing our campus in a manner that takes conservation seriously through efficient operations and improvements for our facilities. But our buildings are not our only focus. We rely on working with the campus community to help us reach our goals. It comes from the students who make our campus-wide efforts rock, the faculty whose years of research and commitment to energy conservation inspire us, and it comes from the staff who are are our biggest partners in getting things done.

When the President's Sustainability Steering Committee gave the charge to reduce both energy and water use by 20% by the year 2020, we took that charge. We've made and continue to make our buildings more energy efficient. On January 29, 2013, when former university President Powers reported the recommendations from the University's Committee on Business Productivity, he stated:

“The Committee also recommends that we invest even more in conserving energy. We have already made a lot of progress. We have cut our per square foot energy use nearly in half in the past 15 years. But we can save even more.” - former UT President Bill Powers, 2013

We're heeding those calls to improve the way we use our energy and water resources. With your help, we can meet--and exceed--our conservation goals. We can even help you do the same at home!

How Do We Conserve Energy and Water at UT?

Our comprehensive program combines the relevant technical expertise with the active engagement of our campus community in order to bring sustainable conservation results. Learn more about our technical efforts and campus outreach below, which includes involving the university's students.

Student Employee Engagement

student staff present at TRACS annual summit
Read about our student employees presenting at the recent TRACS sustainability conference on our News & Innovation page.

Each semester our student employees provide support and new insights to our program. At the end of the semester, they presented their work at the Students Showcase Sustainability event on May 9, 2016. The Showcase was co-hosted by the Office of Sustainability and the Campus Environmental Center. See photos of the Showcase.

showcase printed material

Student Presentations – May 2016:

Note: Some of the presentations would be large downloads for a mobile device.

Student Employee School / College at UT Major Group Working With Presentation
Laura Bowman Business Marketing & Advertising Energy & Water Conservation (EWC) Program Energy and Water Conservation Marketing (PDF)
Osman Kahn Natural Sciences Computer Science EWC – Technical Building Energy Modeling (PDF)
Jessica Lu Liberal Arts Economics/Marketing EWC Lights Out Starter Kit (PDF)
Kali Miller Liberal Arts Environmental Science (Geographical Sciences) EWC Green Fee Lighting Project (PDF)
Clarissa Salazar Liberal Arts Health & Society EWC Using Space Efficiently to Save Energy (PDF)
Bryce Townsend Natural Sciences Computation Physics Engineering & Technical Support Data Integrity Efficiency (PDF)

Technical Efforts

EWC Program technical staff collaborate with campus staff to reduce energy and water use and to improve occupant comfort in campus buildings. This is accomplished by a variety of means, such as building automation system (BAS) programming, scheduling equipment, recommissioning, ongoing maintenance programs, capital projects, and campus standards updates.

The EWC team works with the following groups on an ongoing basis to optimize building systems:

EWC's technical staff achieved the best results while providing recommissioning services in several new buildings on campus. For more detailed information on these efforts, see our Recommissioning page.

Campus Engagement

Our engagement efforts depend on campus-wide participation, in several areas. You can:

  • Turn off lights when not in use.
  • Minimize your "plug loads" - the energy consumed by any electronic device that's plugged into a socket.
  • Run your lab and office equipment as efficiently as possible.
  • Participate in our initiatives.
  • Inquire about our University of Texas at Austin student internships by contacting us via email or by calling 512-232-4414.

EWC Initiatives and Outreach

The Energy and Water Conservation (EWC) Program has developed specific efforts in different areas of energy and water conservation:

  • Horns Up, Sash Down: Find out why shutting your fume hood sash helps you reduce energy use.
  • Longhorn Lights Out: Our campus-wide event where building occupants reduce energy by turning off lights and powering down equipment at the end of the day on a specified date.
  • Holiday Scheduling: Lowering the demand on our HVAC systems while building occupants are away during holidays and breaks helps avoid our energy use on campus.
  • Recommissioning: Learn how our technical experts improve the efficiency of our buildings to enhance energy and water conservation.

We're partnering with Green Labs for our Horns Up, Sash Down program.

Reports, Methods & Standards

energy conservation scorecard

Wondering how we're progressing toward our goal of reducing energy by 20 percent by the year 2020? Thanks to the efforts of many, we are well on our way! Take a look at the Energy Scorecard in the chart above or in this downloadable version (PDF) of the chart.

Water Conservation Infographic

Click the infographic below to see the full results

Infographic of detailed water conservation efforts

Additional Resources

For more information on our conservation efforts on campus, download these reports:

Results are in from Earth Month 2015!

  • Campus Conversation Nationals challenged 150 U.S. college campuses to track their energy use during April 13-30, 2015 to improve conservation efforts. At The University of Texas, a friendly competition was held among the residence halls of the Division of Housing and Food Services (DHFS), and among the Union Building, Belo Center for New Media, Main Building, and Mary E. Gearing Hall. Hats off to DHFS, whose facilities reduced their electrical use the most to place in the top four spots! Congratulations!
  • In Campus Lights Out, Austin Longhorns teamed up with UT Southwestern Medical Center, Penn State, and University of Kansas to conserve energy. Together, these four campuses had 220 participants who turned off over 5,500 lights to avoid 7,914 kilowatt hours of energy. See results from our campus on the Longhorn Lights Out program page.
  • In the Horns Up, Sash Down competition, researchers conserved energy by shutting the sash on their vent hoods when not in use. The competition included 322 fume hoods in 47 research lab and teaching lab groups. If the behavior change seen during the competition continues for a year, $12,000 worth of energy will be avoided. See which groups met their conservation goals and who won the drawings here.

Energy and Water Conservation Tips & FAQs


Get tips to conserve energy and water whether you're on campus or at home. You can make a difference, wherever you are! For more information, download these tips:

If you have any questions or want to share your ideas, Email us!

Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to the questions most asked by our clients:

Why is my building so cold? Are we wasting energy?

One of the more common remarks we hear is that university buildings are too cold. Building temperatures may cause some discomfort, but that doesn’t necessarily mean buildings are wasting energy. Here’s why:

In your home, either your heater or air conditioner are on; both aren’t on at the same time. Here at UT Austin, things are a little different. UT generates all of its own energy on site from the UT power plant, where electricity is produced with natural gas. Any excess heat is captured to further generate more energy in the form of steam. Chilled water is the third major form of energy produced at the plant using the electricity that was just produced. Chilled water, steam, and electricity are then pumped to all the buildings. Chilled water is used to cool the buildings, steam is used to heat them, and electricity is used to power lighting, appliances, and plug loads.

At UT, chilled water and steam (cooling and heating) are running all the time, together. Why is this necessary? In commercial buildings, such as the ones at UT, outside air is brought in at certain levels to maintain healthy indoor air quality and oxygen levels. This air is dehumidified by going through a cooling coil (chilled water) at a temperature of 55 degrees where the moisture in the air condenses and drains out of the building. Steam energy is then used to heat up the dehumidified air to comfortable temperatures—generally between 72 degrees and 77 degrees during the summer and 69 degrees and 72 degrees during the winter.* Due to this dehumidification process, warming air above the temperature range actually increases energy usage.

That being said, if you are uncomfortable in spaces and feel that the temperatures are outside of the temperature ranges above, please call The Facilities Service Center at 512-471-2020 and your assigned zone maintenance shop will do all that is possible to make the temperatures more comfortable.

*Laboratories, libraries, museums, and networked and mechanical closet temperatures are modified to accommodate the resources housed in these spaces.

Energy and Water Conservation (EWC) Program Contacts

EWC Team
Seated, from left: Meagan Jones, Energy Steward; Amanda Berens, Energy Engineer; Stephanie Perrone, Project Manager; and Grace Hsieh, Energy Steward.
Standing, from left: Matt Stevens, Energy Steward; Pat Mazur, Technical Staff Associate; Travis Isakson, Energy Engineer; and John Milton, Energy Engineer.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Campus Partners

Energy Spotlights

Everyone has a role in how much energy and water is used on campus every day. That is why it is important to celebrate all the people who work closely with us to reduce that consumption. Every semester we will honor them by highlighting our "Energy Spotlight" partners. Thank you, everyone, for your conservation!

Check out our first Energy Spotlight by clicking the graphic below:

Energy Spotlight

Other Sustainability Programs

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